Village libraries stay shut as staffers fail to turn up
By J Shanmugha Sundaram | ENS | Published: 11th November 2013 08:18 AM |
Hundreds of village panchayat libraries constructed under the Anaithu Grama Anna Marumalarchi Thittam (AGAMT) in the district have remained closed for years now. Thousands of books worth lakhs of rupees in these libraries are gathering dust.
Sources in the district administration said the libraries were built to improve reading habits among rural students and the general public. Each library was constructed at a cost of Rs 3.75 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Books worth Rs 50,000 and furniture worth Rs 50,000 was purchased for each library under the scheme.
In Vellore, a total of 753 libraries had been constructed by the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) and handed over to the respective village panchayats. Retired government employees had been appointed librarians with an honorarium of `750 per month.
“They are unwilling to sit for eight hours from 8 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 7 pm for six days a week (Friday being a holiday) for a meagre amount,” said an official, adding that it was a problem common to many libraries across the State.
Many libraries were locked down within a few months of being after opened, while less than 200 libraries were functioning on only two to three days a week as against six days, an official in the district administration said. “Over 100 libraries are defunct as of today. The books are gathering dust and library buildings wear a deserted look. Few buildings are even being misused by anti-social elements,” he added.
The library at Nagal Panchayat stands testimony to the sorry state of affairs.
Blaming the “irresponsible attitude” of the local bodies for the non-functioning of the libraries, officials said that the government recently passed an order increasing the honorarium for librarians from Rs 750 to Rs 1,500 per month.
“The State government has also directed authorties to appoint members of Pudhu Vazhu Thittam or panchayat level federations of Tamil Nadu State Rural Livelihood Mission as honorary librarians to revive the defunct libraries” said a senior official of DRDA.